Two articles on Wednesday will discuss the chances of death penalty repeal efforts legislatively in Maryland and Nebraska.
My two cents? One, if not two, state legislatures will pass repeal legislation in 2008.
Advocates of repealing Maryland’s death penalty are hopeful that New Jersey’s landmark decision to end capital punishment will provide momentum heading into next month’s legislative session. But interviews with key lawmakers suggest that a permanent repeal during the 90-day session remains a long shot.. . . Jane Henderson, executive director of Maryland Citizens Against State Executions, said she remains optimistic about repeal prospects during the coming session, however. “There’s movement,” Henderson said. “There are people leaning our way who may not say so before session. . . . We’re going to continue to push. It’s no longer a question of ‘if’ in Maryland. It’s a question of ‘when.’ “
The session that starts Jan. 9 might be “the best chance Nebraska would have to repeal” the death penalty, said Grand Island Sen. Ray Aguilar, who changed his mind about the state’s ultimate punishment last year. In a pre-session survey by The Associated Press, 10 of the 49 senators said they supported repealing the death penalty — versus six last year. Twenty-two said they opposed a repeal, versus 29 last year. Two were unsure, and 15 senators — including Chambers — didn’t respond to the survey. Term limits will force Chambers out after the session that begins in January, and he’s made it clear that wiping capital punishment from state statutes is his career-long goal. He’s expected to try again this year but needs at least 30 votes to override an expected veto from Republican Gov. Dave Heineman.